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 From the Jungle, Global Insights on Words and War From the Jungle, Global Insights on Words and War
by Doug McGill
2008-07-24 08:40:00
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In her very first interviews last week after being rescued in the jungles of Colombia, following six years of brutal captivity, Ingrid Betancourt remembered and reflected on a great many things.

But her most inspiring reflections, I think, were the startling words she uttered on two separate occasions last week about language itself – about words and their profound role in shaping human and political affairs.

“We’ve reached a point where we must change the radical extremist vocabulary of hate and very strong words that intimately wound human beings,” she said in a Monday interview with French radio, her voice clear and strong, her eyes alert and piercing.

So often in our private and public discourse, we rush to solve our problems with words. We may use them quickly, in defense or reaction, or we may spend time composing careful screeds of reason and reflection.

In either case, we rarely stop to think about the very medium we are using to douse the flames. What if we don't know as much about language as we thought? This question certainly goes to people who by the millions today are writing on blogs and web sites, and thus are profoundly shaping public discourse, as well as to professional writers, politicians, and full-time activists.

Public Peace

Is it possible that human beings remain collectively quite ignorant about how language actually works in the process of continuing individual and social hurts, and of easing suffering and harm?

What if, despite our best intentions, we often are actually using gasoline instead of water to extinguish our public and private conflagrations? 

Last Friday, in a second interview, Betancourt elaborated on this point. She described how the tonally sensitive and timely use of language is critical to achieve forgiveness first within oneself and between individuals, and how that step in turn creates a broad foundation for public peace.

Her points about language unfolded after the interviewer, Stephen Sackur, asked Betancourt about the very first moments in the rescue helicopter when she and her colleagues first learned they were free.

“At that moment, you could see the guys who had been responsible for your captivity, themselves bound,” Sackur said. “One of them was naked. Did you feel immense anger? Did you want to go and kick them?”

The Right Tone

“No, no,” Betancourt replied softly. “I was kneeling, telling my companions not to do that. At that moment, for some seconds, I prayed. I prayed to God. You know, I think it is very important to be free, totally free. And I think that anger or seeking revenge or bitterness is something like chains. The same chains they had us wearing all those years. It’s like those kinds of chains.”

She used gentle, careful language right there to break her chains.

“We are human beings, and human beings are beings of words,” Betancourt added. “The word is what makes us different. Words are our strongest weapons. We need to talk to make peace. It’s not easy. We know in our everyday life in a family, when there is a problem, that finding the right words, and saying them in the right moment, with the right tone, is so difficult. Well, that also happens for a nation.”

All around the world today, in many countries and spheres of life – scientific, journalistic, political, religious, spiritual – more and more people, including lay people, are considering language and its closely interrelated roles in daily life, the media, public affairs and democratic systems.

Better Metaphors

Mystics like Eckart Tolle; scientists like George Lakoff; popular writers like Deborah Tannen; and global economists like Amartya Sen are all highlighting how the ethical use of language in both private and public spheres, the two being blurred these days, is a key to human progress.

Tannen, in her book “The Argument Culture,” examines how the metaphors of “fighting,” “war” and “aggression,” so deeply buried in human consciousness, covertly direct much human behavior, much to our collective detriment. Learning and following more peaceful and collaborative metaphors to describe human interaction, self-representation and decision-making is critical to making peace as humans, Tannen says.

George Lakoff, Drew Westen and other neuroscientists and psychologists meanwhile have empirically described how language triggers discrete, measurable, predictable feelings and psychological moods. They thus are manipulated by propagandists – such as corporate advertisers and government leaders and political spinners – for distinctly anti-social ends.

A Last Question

Drawing closer to Betancourt’s recent comments on language, writers like Amartya Sen, Anthony Appiah and Amin Maalouf show how language words to establish and perpetuate divisive identity groups.

Such “descriptive misrepresentation” degrades people for political ends and “seriously miniaturizes” human beings, Sen says.

In a dreadful experiment in human suffering and language that distinctly was not of her choosing, Ingrid Betancourt reached similar conclusions.

At the end of the interview, the BBC host asked her one last question.

“When you think about yourself, Ingrid Betancourt, how have you changed over the last six and a half years? How are you different now from the woman you were, running for president, in 2002?”

“I’m a woman," Betancourt replied. "I’m a fragile woman. The difference is that now I know that I’m fragile. So I take care.”

Copyright @ 2008 The McGill Report
Permalink http://www.mcgillreport.org/betancourt.htm
To reach Douglas Mcgill: doug@mcgillreport.org


  
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Emanuel Paparella2008-07-24 12:19:50
This is a thought-provoking inspiring article full of great references to language and its use. How sad, that after Vico and Wittegenstein and Levinas and Derrida’s and Apphia’s great meditations on language and identity many of our so called leaders, who go around parading their “enlightenment” conceive of language and its mystery and its ambiguity as a mere instrument of logic and rationality with which to grab and keep power. Some even do it via versifying which they confuse for poetry. The wrong turn in the trajectory of modern philosophy was taken with that statement “knowledge is power.” That is exactly the way the eleven Nazis (with Ph.D. after their names and proud of their knowledge) who planned the Holocaust in two hours conceived of language. Heidegger, who had also meditated on language in his “Being and Time” even joined their party for a very short while thus betraying the mystery that is language.


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-24 13:42:30
In the interest of the full context of this human story, it is worth noting here that in the international interview that Ingrid Betancourt held with Larry King on CNN she made a point of drawing attention to the fact that what allowed her to get through her nightmarish experience of captivity and inhuman treatment by her captors was her faith. That is undoubtedly similar to what allowed a de Sousa Mendes to overcome the persecution of a Salazar for helping Jewish refugees, and as such their faith, or lack thereof, is integral part of the whole narrative of a man or a woman. To present only what is convenient to one's ideology is in effect to truncate the story. The reason that was a significant statement on the part of Bentacourt is that it implies that even the value of one’s humanity has to be ultimately anchored in some kind of transcendent principle or law, or it will be overcome by the demonic dehumanizing forces unleashed by ideologies that proclaim that all there is in this world is what the material, that power struggles are the ultimate reality, and that man is nothing but the sum part of his body’s component.


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-24 16:34:08
P.S. Heidegger, who remains an important 20th century philosopher, is on record as saying that he thought he heard the voive of Being in Hitler. Indeed, if that is not the idolatry of rationalism I don't know what is. More than mere logic and intelligence is needed to live "the good life" as distinct of the life with goods, and perhaps the ancients can teach us a thing or two on the subject.


Sand2008-07-24 19:48:38
That Hitler is held out as a supreme proponent of logic and intelligence is one of the oddest proposals I have read in a very long time.


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-24 21:05:33
Langerbein, Helmut. "Hitler's Death Squads: The Logic of Mass Murder"

Journal article by William S. Brockington Jr; International Social Science Review, Vol. 79, 2004

The ignorance of adoring crowds praizing the supreme Furher and his intelligence would be surprising indeed if it hadn't become so common in our ethically challenged times which believe that corporations have no ethical obligations beyond that of making money.

The above reference may be hepful in unburdening oneself of the ignorance regarding the logic and the rationale for the Holocaust and to understand how it could have been planned in two hours by men with degrees of higher education. Indeed, to confuse intelligence and logic underpinned by efficient ordering as behavior worthy of admiration is to eventually become an ethically retarted rationalist or a monstruosity. Till we study that phenomenon all the monuments to the Holocaust will result in what Judt calls appalling "misremembering."


Sand2008-07-24 21:26:10
There was never a statement made that corporations have no ethical obligations in regard to their activities. That statement was twisted out of my observation that corporations were only legally obligated to enrich their investors.

Since Paparella continually reiterates that the Holocaust was planned by 11 Nazis with PhDs in a couple of hours I thought it worthwhile to check his facts.
As Mr. Paparella himself indicates he holds the PhD degree I am curious as to why he insists that the degree is somehow significant in promoting the element of brutality in educated people.

I checked his facts at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wannsee_Conference and that site indicated there were 15 participants 8 of which apparently held the PhD degree. This is the analysis at that site as to the capability of the planning of the individuals. (It should be mentioned that this clarification in no way is meant to excuse the participants. It merely is to solidify the facts of the situation and to indicate that other statements by Paparella should be examined more closely).

The Wannsee Conference only lasted about ninety minutes, and for most of its participants it was one meeting among many in a busy week. The enormous importance which has been attached to the conference by postwar writers was not evident to most of its participants at the time. The Wannsee Conference made no fundamental decisions about the extermination of the Jews. Such decisions, as everybody at the meeting understood, were made by Hitler, in consultation, if he chose, with senior colleagues such as Himmler and Göring, and not by officials. They knew that in this case the decision had already been made, and that Heydrich was there as Himmler's emissary to tell them about it. Nor did the conference engage in detailed logistical planning. It could hardly do so in the absence of a representative of the Transport Ministry or the German Railways.
What, then, was the purpose of the meeting? Eichmann's biographer David Cesarani says that Heydrich's main purpose was to impose his own authority on the various ministries and agencies involved in Jewish policy matters, to avoid any repetition of the disputes that had arisen over the killing of the German Jews at Riga in October. "The simplest, most decisive way that Heydrich could ensure the smooth flow of deportations", he writes, "was by asserting his total control over fate of the Jews in the Reich and the east, and [by] cow[ing] other interested parties into toeing the line of the RSHA".[37] This would explain why most of the meeting was taken up with a long speech by Heydrich, the contents of which would not have been news to most of those present, and why so little time was spent discussing practical questions. It was also important to obtain the consent of the Foreign Ministry and the Four Year Plan, the ministries most likely to object (on diplomatic and economic grounds) to the mass killing of the Jews.


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-25 12:00:54
Watch your syntax. What you probably meant to say is "to reflect on one's mental stability." on the other hands those who talk to voices and assume aliases and make up one's historical facts have already projected one's mental instability. But the shadow knows!


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-25 03:40:18
“Although I have this sense that I sit up there alone something less than two meters above my shoes where I peer out at the world through those two holes on either side of my nose, I must admit that I do have silent conversations with somebody else or perhaps with several somebody elses.” (Jan Sand)

It would appear that the voices have been visiting again and Mr. Sand, true to form, has again heard from them things that I did not say which he then egregiously proceeds to put in my mouth. Any attentive reader will surely notice that in the statement to which Mr. Sand pretends to be responding, nowhere the number of men holding a Ph.D.s is mentioned, what is simply stated is that several of those men had degrees of higher education. So the question is this: is Mr. Sand responding to me or to the voices in his head? I strongly suggest that Mr. Sand’s egregious responses relying mostly on accusations ad hominem (the lowest form of discussion to which all intellectual bullies are addicted) be checked a bit more thoroughly by both readers and editors. I am afraid that they do not add any luster to a magazine which rightly prides itself of being accommodating and tolerant of all opinions in the best tradition of free speech. (continued below)


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-25 03:41:31
The Wannesee Conference is certainly alluded to but not mentioned directly in my statement, but Mr. Sand and the voices in his head proceed to correct me on the amount of time it took. It seems that I was off by half hour. This, plus the intricate motivations and machinations behind the Conference which were not mentioned, somehow makes me unreliable in my facts and invalidates my analysis of a dehumanizing rationalism still alive and well in our brave new world. Indeed, this penchant for the correct time is strangely reminiscent of the Nazi’s and Fascist’s penchant for making trains run on time. Somehow the trains running on time becomes more important than asking where are those trains heading to and for what purpose. Tony Judt and Elie Wiezel are quite right: the lessons of the Holocaust have hardly been learned by the modern rationalists with a penchant for being on time erecting monuments to the Holocaust. That kind of “misremembering” can only make a travesty of the Holocaust.


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-25 03:51:09
P.S. I also would propose that the editors monitor those who think it ethically ok to misrepresent somebody's identity as it was done once again on the last comment to the article by Linda Lane which is not mine. One cannot but suspect that such action can only [roceed from the sort of loonies who hear and personify visiting voices.


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-25 04:09:54
P.S. Since Mr. Sand is wining and complaining that his statement on corporations was distorted, here is the original statement. Let the reader decide if indeed it was distorted.

"A corporation is a human organization designed primarily to make money. That is the nature of the beast. To complain that the corporation, be it dealing in oil or tobacco or armaments or gold or coal or whatever is driven by greed and a lack of human compassion and a total neglect of the environment through vandalism and a bent towards creating governmental corruption is a silly useless cry as idiotic as complaining that birds fly because they have wings. There is little or no element within the dynamic of a corporation to do more than make money by whatever means possible. That is the essence of the problem and there is no solution or current attempt at solution at the moment to that. Corporations are too powerful to permit any beneficent change." (SAND)


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-25 05:22:50
John Ralston Saul] gives a devastating example of the limits of technocracy: "The Holocaust was the result of a perfectly rational argument - given what reason had become - that was self-justifying and hermetically sealed. There is, therefore, nothing surprising about the fact that the meeting called to decide on 'the final solution' was a gathering mainly of senior ministerial representatives. Technocrats. Nor is it surprising that [the] Wannsee Conference lasted only an hour -- one meeting among many for those present -- and turned entirely on the modalities for administering the solutions .... The massacre was indeed 'managed,' even 'well managed.' It had the clean efficiency of a Harvard case study."

Marshall Rosenberg, who teaches non-violent communication, was struck in reading psychological interviews with Nazi war criminals not by their abnormality, but that they used a language denying choice: "should," "one must," "have to." For example, Adolph Eichmann was asked, "Was it difficult for you to send these tens of thousands of people their death?" Eichmann replied, "To tell you the truth, it was easy. Our language made it easy." Asked to explain, Eichmann said, "My fellow officers and I coined our own name for our language. We called it amtssprache -- 'office talk.'" In office talk "you deny responsibility for your actions. So if anybody says, 'Why did you do it?' you say, 'I had to.' 'Why did you have to?' 'Superiors' orders. Company policy. It's the law.'" (continued below)


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-25 05:24:18
(continued from above)

Yet for all the words we have devoted to the Holocaust, go into almost any bookstore and you'll find far more works on how to manage, manipulate and control others - and how to use "office talk" -- than you will on how to practice the skills of a free citizen. Some of the most important lessons of the Holocaust are simply missed. Among these, as Richard Rubenstein has pointed out, is that it could only have been carried out by "an advanced political community with a highly trained, tightly disciplined police and civil service bureaucracy." In 'The Cunning of History,' Rubenstein also finds uncomfortable parallels between the Nazis and their opponents. For example, a Hungarian Jewish emissary meets with Lord Moyne, the British High Commissioner in Egypt in 1944 and suggests that the Nazis might be willing to save one million Hungarian Jews in return for military supplies. Lord Moyne's reply: "What shall I do with those million Jews? Where shall I put them?" Writes Rubenstein: "The British government was by no means adverse to the 'final solution' as long as the Germans did most of the work. For both countries, it had become a bureaucratic problem, one that Rubenstein suggests we understand "as the expression of some of the most profound tendencies of Western civilization in the 20th century." - Sam Smith


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-25 05:40:44
This from the official minutes of the Wannsee Conference. There were 12 persons who participated, not 15. I was off by one, Mr. Sand was off by three.

I. The following persons took part in the discussion about the
final solution of the Jewish question which took place in Berlin,
am Grossen Wannsee No. 56/58 on 20 January 1942.

Gauleiter Dr. Meyer and Reichsamt- Reich Ministry for
leiter Dr. Leibbrandt the Occupied Eastern
territories

Secretary of State Dr. Stuckart Reich Ministry for
the Interior

Secretary of State Neumann Plenipotentiary for
the Four Year Plan

Secretary of State Dr. Freisler Reich Ministry of
Justice

Secretary of State Dr. Buehler Office of the Govern-
ment General

Under Secretary of State Dr. Luther Foreign Office

SS-Oberfuehrer Klopfer Party Chancellery

Ministerialdirektor Kritzinger Reich Chancellery

SS-Gruppenfuehrer Hofmann Race and Settlement
Main Office

SS-Gruppenfuehrer Mueller Reich Main Security
SS-Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann Office

SS-Oberfuehrer Dr. Schoengarth Security Police and SD
Chief of the Security Police and
the SD in the Government General

SS-Sturmbannfuehrer Dr. Lange Security Police and SD
Commander of the Security Police
and the SD for the General-District
Latvia, as deputy of the Commander
of the Security Police and the SD
for the Reich Commissariat "Eastland".


Sand2008-07-25 06:24:25
Paparella's verbal diarrhea seems unfortunately overstimulated by a few direct quotes from Wikipedia. His habitual accusations of insanity whenever he is corrected is evidence of something but I cannot say exactly what. As someone interested in history I would suggest he send his corrections directly to the source, not to me.


Sand2008-07-25 06:50:11
Since my existence has been questioned I would recommend that queries be sent to the editors of this publication who have had coffee with me a couple of times. They can assure you that I did not walk through walls nor materialize from a puff of vapor.


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-25 07:31:34
Indeed, for an intellectual bully accustomed to make an ass on oneself, any source will serve to slander and cast egregious aspersion on those who don't agree with one's own viewpoint and politically correct position, not to mention the assumption of aliases and the stealing of identities; after all the will is to power, not truth. Dostoyevsky had it on target: if there is no God, anything is permitted, as long as one does not get caught.


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-25 07:56:21
The Wannsee Conference (1987)

Starring: Dietrich Mattausch, Harald Dietl Director: Heinz Schirk

The excellent movie above chillingly recreates the Wannessee Conference and does it so faithfully that even the time is the same as the original: 85 minutes. Rationalists obsessed with logic and correct timing may wish to consider watching it. It looks like a corporation meeting where business is being discussed casually over brandy and coffee.


Sand2008-07-25 08:03:40
When one feels persecuted by historical sources it is time to reflect one's mental stability.


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-25 12:05:25
Watch your syntax! You mean "reflect on one's mental stability." On the other hand, those who confabulate with voices have already projected their mental instability. But the shadow knows!


Sand2008-07-25 12:44:16
When there is no sensible logical counter, the rule is to attack grammar. Good that my meaning was clear anyway.


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-25 12:55:33
Is that what the voices counselled? To turn the tables and project on to others what you are a master in? Don't listen to them; they are deceivers.


Sand2008-07-25 13:01:53
Aah, poor Paparella! I can well understand why your thinking is so muddled since you openly confess you have no capacity whatsoever for internal dialogue to untangle the grotesque misinformation you so helplessly purvey as factual history when the reliable sources so clearly indicate the Augean stables of your mind require a thorough flushing out.


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-25 13:28:21
You are listening to them once again. Those voices you call internal dialogue are up to no good, I tell you. Look at what they make you assert so shamelessly.


Sand2008-07-25 15:34:36
If it's a choice between my internal dialogue and your output of obvious nonsense the problem of choosing is no problem at all.


Sand2008-07-25 16:16:53
At least this conversation has revealed the fundamental difficulty you must have had throughout your whole life and it is very sad. Since you have apparently never had the normal capability of internal dialogue I can understand the problem of your blatant contempt for reason. It is evidently something you cannot do and this is why you are so completely abject before any claimed authority. You simply lack the basic tools to analyze and criticize the obvious failings of the clever scam artists who have been proliferating cultural nonsense throughout the ages. You have my greatest sympathy.


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-25 16:59:00
I tell you: don't listen to them. They just convinced you that I have contempt for reason when in reality it is the rationalist who has contempt for reason every time he divorces it from imagination, intuition, the poetical. The symptom is in the so called "logical" language used by rationalists as already explained in one of the comments by Heichmann himself.

Indeed this article was all about Betancourt's reflection on the subversion of the proper use of language by rationalists that conceive of it as a mere tool to grab power and manipulate others. If she had been looking for a good example, she now has one and she has Mr. Sand, the extreme rationaiist of this forum who is visited daily by voices, to thank. She would indeed find it very sad to think that as far as you are concerned she is a voice crying in the desert. I heartly sympathize because as Kierkegaard pointed out, certain deseases of the spirit are unto death and ultimately nobody can die for us.


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-25 17:27:55
P.S. By the way, were one to evaluate the language you use in this forum, it is obvious to any attentive reader that it is not that of the poetical and the interior dialogue but that of the Machiavellian Grand Inquisitor ready to interrogate and intimidate his victims. In less Dostoyevskian and exhalted terms, it is the prosaic language of the intellectual bully who lacks the capacity and the tools for a lucid and productive dialogue but continues to delude himself that he is a poet of sort. I am afraid it takes more than clever manipulation of words to create the poetical in language or any other medium of human expression.


Sand2008-07-25 17:41:22
Sorry, Paparella, you have made it exceedingly clear by your own statements that you are not qualified to make that judgment.


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-25 17:52:43
Indeed, it has become exceedingly clear that anyone who disagrees with your "politically correct" assumptions is not qualified to make that judgment and any other judgment and is subjected to the rack of vituperations and argumenti ad hominem till he recants. But there is always the little boy who eventually cries out: the Inquisitor is naked.


Sand2008-07-25 18:02:23
Enen with your obvious disabilities, Paparella, haven't you noticed that you have only about six or seven analogies to situations you repeat over and over again? Such a tiny, tiny, tiny mind!
So much like those pseudo human imitations rigged up by artificial intelligence nerds!


Sand2008-07-25 18:03:42
"Even" of course.


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-26 00:15:24
Since I have been declared incompetent to render a judgment on the matter of language abuse by the Grand Inquisitor in resident who thinks of himself the guardian of the gates of political correctness but if truth be said is the obvious intellectual bully and extreme rationalist of this otherwise admirable forum of opinion, here is a verbatim list of the intemperate, destructive and indeed violent uses of language culled from the above egregious and even slanderous comments: it would take a volume to include all the smart ass slogans proffered in this forum by the same “enlightened” Sand, the use the same respectful mode of address that he so prefers. Let the reader then decide whether such “poetic” utterances belongs to language of peace and harmony and render luster to a publication or that of slander and lying and insinuation better relegated perhaps to a toilet room:
“…such a tiny, tiny, tiny mind…; pseudo human imitations…; your obvious disabilities…; you lack the basic tools to analyze and criticize the clever scam artists…; you are completely abject…; your blatant contempt for reason…; output of obvious nonsense…; the Augean stables of your mind require a thorough flushing out…; the grotesques misinformation you so helplessly purvey as factual history…; you openly confess you have no capacity whatsoever…; your thinking is so muddled…; poor Paparella…; there is no sensible logical counter…; it’s time to reflect one’s mental stability [sic]…; Paparella’s verbal diarrhea…; other statements by Paparella should be examined more closely…; he insists that the Ph.D. is some is somehow significant in promoting the element of brutality in educated people…; one of the oddest proposal I have ever read.


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-26 00:20:19
So that we may leave with something positive from this unfortunate diatribe (initiated midway a list of compliments by one of the “enlightened” of this otherwise admirable forum of opinion who thinks he has “the tools to criticize the clever scam artists” throughout the ages…and perhaps burn their books…) which in some way defaced it and ovrshadowed the subject at hand: the use of language, and the reflections thereof by Ingrid Betancourt, here for the readers’ renewed consideration is the wise conclusions of the same article, remaining there like the sun outside the cave for the reader to reread and reflect upon despite its defacing by the misuse of language. In some uncanny way the language above analyzed exemplifies the negative aspects pointed out by Doug McGill. Here is the passage again which hopefully will close the parenthesis, unless there is the Inquisitor in residence in this forum wishes to reopen it:

"Drawing closer to Betancourt’s recent comments on language, writers like Amartya Sen, Anthony Appiah and Amin Maalouf show how language words to establish and perpetuate divisive identity groups.
Such “descriptive misrepresentation” degrades people for political ends and “seriously miniaturizes” human beings, Sen says.
In a dreadful experiment in human suffering and language that distinctly was not of her choosing, Ingrid Betancourt reached similar conclusions.


Sand2008-07-26 06:41:57
Much verbiage, all emotional blather, the same limited cliche analogies: the naked emperor, Plato's cave, burning books, the handful of PhDs that basically caused the Holocaust and other paranoid fantasies of being persecuted by historical facts.
Pitiful.


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-26 09:22:31
Is this meant as the final exemplary punch line to the violent language of the bully? Even if this last exemplary comment were true (which it isn't)metaphors and analogies would still be preferable to this kind of verbiage and emotional blather:

“…such a tiny, tiny, tiny mind…; pseudo human imitations…; your obvious disabilities…; you lack the basic tools to analyze and criticize the clever scam artists…; you are completely abject…; your blatant contempt for reason…; output of obvious nonsense…; the Augean stables of your mind require a thorough flushing out…; the grotesques misinformation you so helplessly purvey as factual history…; you openly confess you have no capacity whatsoever…; your thinking is so muddled…; poor Paparella…; there is no sensible logical counter…; it’s time to reflect one’s mental stability [sic]…; Paparella’s verbal diarrhea…; other statements by Paparella should be examined more closely…; he insists that the Ph.D. is some is somehow significant in promoting the element of brutality in educated people…; one of the oddest proposal I have ever read." (SAND)

PITIFULY, INDEED!


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-26 09:24:52
Errata above: PITIFUL INDEED!


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-26 09:48:37
A footnote to this demagogic diatribe: since you have hinted to the fact that your mind is as enormous as the universe but nevertheless seems inexplicably unable to comprehend the enormity of what happened at those short 85 minutes’ conference at the Wannsee villa in 1942, let us try this tiny tiny thought once again: the whole point of the analogy of the clever men with Ph.D. (which is historical and not made up) which continues to escape and eluded you so far. to the point that one begins to suspect if there is some admiration there for those men, is that the world would have been better off if those clever men who could rationally and very efficiently plan a human monstrosity over brandy, coffee and cigarettes and much emotional blather, had never gone to school. Thus they would not have acquired the cleverness to inflict much more damage and evil on the innocent. Which is to say that knowledge is not necessarily virtue as the above diatribe surely points to, and in fact knowledge in the hands of evil men increases the evil they can visit on the innocent. In case you have not grasped it yet, it has nothing to do with denigrating the Ph.D. degree per se or the universities that confer it as you seem to think. Perhaps by reducing the horizon of your vast panoramic view a bit and perhaps desist from talking to visiting voices, you may begin to understand that making trains run on time, giving the exact duration of time of the conference and the exact number of men who in fact sported Ph.D.s after their names, is much less important than what those men (which C.S. Lewis then and now would dub as “men without chest’) were up to.


Sand2008-07-26 10:05:16
Although it is an amusing exercise to confront Paparella´s obvious difficulties with realities thereby becoming idiotically labeled as a bully since he has no other way to handle an intractable situation, the core problem posed by the original article should be faced.

It has been the problem of philosophers from the beginning of their investigations that they have been seduced by language which has been uniquely developed by humankind. But language is an exceedingly blunt instrument. I do not deny its very important utility in everyday affairs but its severe limitations should also be recognized. If you have never tasted mustard, vanilla, cinnamon, or even the basics of salt and sugar, no language can convey their impact on the sense of taste. If you have been blind from birth, the basics of color are indescribable. I have noticed that my left eye sees colors slightly more inclined towards the red than my right eye which sees the world more blue. If these slight differences obtain within the same organism, the differences are likely much more between individuals and so language is highly deceptive in conveying fundamental experience. The same problem is concerned with sound. It is impossible to linguistically convey the impact of, say, Bartok’s “Concerto for Orchestra”, to someone deaf from birth. Mathematics is a language much more precise than the use of words but it is just as easy to invent internally consistent fantasy worlds with variables of gravity, electrical attraction and repulsion and varieties of magnetism with mathematical rigidity. This is done all the time in research and very occasionally one of these inventions describes our reality better than the one currently in use.

The language of words, because of its inherent clumsiness, is subject to much abuse. It requires an adept technician to nail down human feelings and attitudes properly and even here mistakes are made which require radical correction. Paparella, for example, no matter how many times he is corrected is perpetually enticed by the obvious silliness of Keats’ “Truth is beauty” or Santayana’s “ Those who forget their mistakes are condemned to repeat them”. Even the briefest look at the world as it is and has been can spot multitudes of ugly truth. And the current war in Iraq initiated by President Bush and his cohort pretty precisely duplicates the Gulf of Tonkin scam of President Johnson which is clearly well established in the memory of any executive with even the slightest elevation of intellect over the average chimpanzee. Establishment institutions such as governments and religions which revel in their records to the past centuries not only keep repeating their stupidities but justify them on the basis of those records.

Words are tricky and easily misapplied or misinterpreted. The Bible and the Koran have, through the centuries, had their words twisted to justify huge mass murder and terrible torture although proponents of both forthrightly deny the correctness of those applications.


Sand2008-07-26 10:21:08
Paparella’s addiction to historical fiction in the case of both legendary texts and his mentioned fictional-historical film of the Wannsee conference seems an unfortunate character fault but considering his other intellectual lapses I suppose it can be indulged as an amusing naivety. Nevertheless it seems worthwhile to repeat the quote from Wikipedia as to the actual events which occurred at Wannsee.

“The Wannsee Conference only lasted about ninety minutes, and for most of its participants it was one meeting among many in a busy week. The enormous importance which has been attached to the conference by postwar writers was not evident to most of its participants at the time. The Wannsee Conference made no fundamental decisions about the extermination of the Jews. Such decisions, as everybody at the meeting understood, were made by Hitler, in consultation, if he chose, with senior colleagues such as Himmler and Göring, and not by officials. They knew that in this case the decision had already been made, and that Heydrich was there as Himmler's emissary to tell them about it. Nor did the conference engage in detailed logistical planning. It could hardly do so in the absence of a representative of the Transport Ministry or the German Railways.
What, then, was the purpose of the meeting? Eichmann's biographer David Cesarani says that Heydrich's main purpose was to impose his own authority on the various ministries and agencies involved in Jewish policy matters, to avoid any repetition of the disputes that had arisen over the killing of the German Jews at Riga in October. "The simplest, most decisive way that Heydrich could ensure the smooth flow of deportations", he writes, "was by asserting his total control over fate of the Jews in the Reich and the east, and [by] cow[ing] other interested parties into toeing the line of the RSHA".[37] This would explain why most of the meeting was taken up with a long speech by Heydrich, the contents of which would not have been news to most of those present, and why so little time was spent discussing practical questions. It was also important to obtain the consent of the Foreign Ministry and the Four Year Plan, the ministries most likely to object (on diplomatic and economic grounds) to the mass killing of the Jews.”


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-26 10:44:39
"Paparella’s addiction to historical fiction in the case of both legendary texts and his mentioned fictional-historical film of the Wannsee conference seems an unfortunate character fault but considering his other intellectual lapses I suppose it can be indulged as an amusing naivety. (SAND)

Historical fiction? It looks as if the voices have come visiting again. Don't you believe them, they are liars. So that you can confront them here is the description of the film which in fact exists and is a faithful re-enactment of the Wannsee Conference that if feels more like a documentary than a film. You and the visiting voices should consider watching it together.

Editorial Reviews and Product Description
The horror of the holocaust began on January 20, 1942, when key representatives of the SS, the Nazi Party, and the government bureaucracy met secretly at a house in Wannsee. A quiet Berlin suburb, to discuss "The Final Solution." While they enjoyed a buffet lunch, brandy, and cigarettes, they discussed how they could systematically exterminate eleven million Jewish people. Director Heinz Schirk and writer Paul Mommertz use actual notes from the Wannsee Conference, along with letters written by Hermann Goering and Adolf Eichmann, and testimony by Eichmann at his 1961 trial in Israel, to re-create the shocking events of the fateful 85-minute meeting. Viewers become stunned witnesses to the cold-blooded, matter-of-fact manner in which the most hideous crime in history was set in motion.


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-26 10:52:17
(continued from above)

And here is and excerpt from a review of the film (by Linda Linguivic who gave it five stars):

"This was a fine film, recapturing a horrible moment in history. It's so well done that it seems real, and that makes it extremely uncomfortable to watch. As a matter of fact, I was so disturbed that I actually thought of turning it off and not watching it all the way though. But I was hooked on the excellent acting, fine screenplay and great camerawork that focused on one man's face after another. I therefore give it an extremely high recommendation although it is not for the faint of heart."


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-26 10:56:04
Here is another excerpt by Daniel Hamlow (who also assigned the movie 5 stars):

"All the light humor involves Lange's dog. Of the dark humor: A disappointed Gauleiter Meyer says, "So the Eastern Provinces won't be the site of the Final Solution?" To which Heydrich replies, "Well, not everybody can reap the laurels, gentlemen."
The second part of the meeting involves the mischling (mixed race) question, in which Dr. Stuckart turns out to be more human. He is upset that the half-German/half-Jews are to be included in the Endlosung. There's also a personal side to it. "It's not news that I am called a Jew-lover in the Brown House. But repetition doesn't make it true," he says, referring to an ongoing feud between him and the rabid xenophobe Klopfer. Stuckart says that with every mischling killed, not only is the Jewish blood lost, so is the German blood. Leibrandt ridicules him, saying, "To a pessimist, the glass is half empty. To an optimist, the glass is half full. You are an optimist." Everyone then roars with laughter."


Sand2008-07-26 11:57:01
Bereft of the normal capability of internal dialogue to permit critical analysis poor Paparella attributes this vital human mental function to some kind of evil spirits. Thus, empty headed and empty of mind he swallows all sorts of amusing artistic fabrications as reality.


Sand2008-07-26 13:13:25
As I mentioned above, words can violently distort reality. I am especially captivated by Paparella’s characterization of the Holocaust as the most hideous crime in human history. I am in accord with the idea that it was indeed hideous but human history is very long and the vigorous talents that humans have exhibited for creating atrocities is a strong rival for its vaunted and continuously claimed intellectual accomplishments. Ancient and current civilizations both before the Christian era and since have shown no reluctance whatsoever to do horrible things to each other, to other life on this very fertile planet, and, oddly, to themselves. The rape, torture enslavement and murder of civilian bystanders, men, women, and children, in wars is well documented on all sides of combatants right down to current events. The casual acceptance and easy dismissal in current conflicts of what is now labeled as collateral damage testifies to the continuities of human cruelty and callous behavior.

Paparella has, in past discussions, attempted to totally dismiss the responsibility of the Catholic Church for the ill treatment of Jews in the centuries before the Holocaust and it is unfortunate that his mind seems to go entirely blank when hugely documented instances of Catholic oriented authorities saw to it that Jews were sequestered in communities for centuries throughout Europe and regular pogroms were encouraged by these officials to uproot and murder these unfortunates on strange false rumors of the murder of Christian children for blood to produce matzos and other Jewish rituals. A good number of the German population were Catholic before and under the Nazis and enthusiastically embraced the Holocaust because they were well prepared for centuries by their Catholic indoctrination of Jews as “Christ killers”. It probably is not well remembered that anti-Semitism was a worldwide malady at the time and a shipload of Jews fleeing persecution attempted to seek safety in the USA and was not permitted to land by Franklin Roosevelt in fear of American public reaction. Whatever the activities at the Wannsee conference, the German populace was well prepared by their religious leaders to implement the horror and it probably could not have taken place without the centuries of religious indoctrination.

No doubt Paparella will bring forth again the few decent German Catholics who defied their indoctrination and sacrificed themselves for the victims but these were obviously a small minority since the Holocaust did take place and a few educated monsters in official power certainly could not override strong general public humane decency and disgust over this action if it did indeed exist. It is obvious that it did not.

This is a very unique and fertile planet and it has no equal in our solar system. If one would seek to discover the most hideous crime in human history it would seem to me to be occurring right now. Special interests are actively doing everything in their power to destroy our environment and ecology for the most blatantly stupid ends imaginable. It is the untold millions of our successors and the wonderful life forms that sustain us and make the Earth such a wonder who will live miserable lives, suffer and die if these monstrous fools are not stopped.




Emanuel Paparella2008-07-26 15:52:14
Poor Sand, it appears that the voices of the FSM have come back swinging and you have listened to them once again. I told you and tell you again, they are liars and promoters of invincible ignorance. In the first place you need to tell them that they should not be so eager in their scurrilous and egregious charges because it becomes they reveal only too well what they are up to. For example, had they read carefully the comments proffered they would have known that it was not me that called the Holocaust the greatest crime on earth but the editors of the film in question which you and them conveniently bypassed. Whatever is not convenient to one’s misguided assumptions is simply ignored. That is indeed the stuff of the barbarians’ Dark Ages, never mind the Enlightenment rationalism, wherein most of the European population would still be were it not for the Catholic Church that saved the remnants of ancient Greco Roman civilization. Regarding the usual scurrilous biased bashing of the Catholic Church, that too is nothing terribly new coming from your pen in this forum, in fact I consider it an unfortunate blight on the same. Talking of clichés and caricatures: you have been peddling that cliché probably from the very beginning of the magazine. It seems to be hard-wired in your computer of meat in between your ears. Indeed, it would be futile to even attempt once again to refute such invincible ignorance. It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks, albeit one ought never give up in despair. The books are still there to get some enlightenment although one cannot guarantee that they will not be burned eventually when scurrilous invincible ignorance wins the day again.


Sand2008-07-26 18:15:46
I'm happy you have the good sense to agree with me that as bad as the Holocaust was it was not the worst crime of humanity.It is interesting that you openly disavow what you offered as something you apparently agreed with. Of course, this leaves in great doubt all the other material you presented as conforming to your opinions so I am now pretty much in the dark as to what you do believe. Could it be that you also believe that much of the film of the conference at Wannsee was fiction? Clarification is in order. Or, as in the past, do you prefer to leave the field of opinion so totally ambiguous so that you can beat a quick retreat when confronted?


Sand2008-07-26 18:24:16
It is one of your more amusing mental acrobatics to deny the role of the Catholic Church in the historical persecution of the Jews and as funny as it may be to watch your antics the very firm confirmation of that in the many acceptable historical recounts of the era makes you a rather ineffective clown totally cowed by religious dogma. So I agree. No sense in arguing about it. It is thoroughly confirmed.


Sand2008-07-26 18:39:33
This is not an element in an argument. It is history as quoted from Wikipedia.

"In the Middle Ages Antisemitism in Europe was religious. Though not part of Roman Catholic dogma, many Christians, including members of the clergy, have held the Jewish people collectively responsible for killing Jesus, a practice originated by Melito of Sardis. As stated in the Boston College Guide to Passion Plays, "Over the course of time, Christians began to accept... that the Jewish people as a whole were responsible for killing Jesus. According to this interpretation, both the Jews present at Jesus’ death and the Jewish people collectively and for all time, have committed the sin of deicide, or God-killing. For 1900 years of Christian-Jewish history, the charge of deicide has led to hatred, violence against and murder of Jews in Europe and America."[1]

During the Middle Ages in Europe there was full-scale persecution in many places, with blood libels, expulsions, forced conversions and massacres. A main justification of prejudice against Jews in Europe was religious. Jews were frequently massacred and exiled from various European countries. The persecution hit its first peak during the Crusades. In the First Crusade (1096) flourishing communities on the Rhine and the Danube were utterly destroyed; see German Crusade, 1096. In the Second Crusade (1147) the Jews in France were subject to frequent massacres. The Jews were also subjected to attacks by the Shepherds' Crusades of 1251 and 1320. The Crusades were followed by expulsions, including in, 1290, the banishing of all English Jews; in 1396, 100,000 Jews were expelled from France; and, in 1421 thousands were expelled from Austria. Many of the expelled Jews fled to Poland.[2]"


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-26 19:22:03
Once again you have been listening to the voices in your head and rather than admit that you one of your scurillous and dishonest intellectual tacticts is to put other's words or your own words in others' mouth, you make me disagree with the editor's characterization of the Holocaust as the worst crime in history, which I never actually did. As I said, one cannot teach old dogs new tricks.

Regarding Wilkepedia Enclyclopedia I still remember when I quoted myself ote from it concerning Vico's understanding of what reason that quote was promptly attacked by you because any idiot could write for Wikipedia. Now Wikipedia has become the voice of truth itself beyond argument. In other words, if it agrees with you it is the voice of truth, if not it is the voice of falshood and deception. O tempora, o mores.


Sand2008-07-26 19:50:46
Direct quote from your submission "read carefully the comments proffered they would have known that it was not me that called the Holocaust the greatest crime on earth but the editors of the film in question which you and them conveniently bypassed." Was that a denial or not?
And from your criticism of the descriptive quote of Christian antisemitism from Wikipedia. Do you declare that to be a lie? It would be a good clarification of your opinion, whatever you might think of Wikipedia in general.


Sand2008-07-26 20:11:09
Religious authorities were just as eager to establish their power over the Jews. In 1215, the Fourth Lateran Council decreed that Jews should wear special clothing, helping to increase their social, political and economic isolation because wherever they went, they would first and foremost be identified as Jews rather than simply other human beings. It also decreed that Jews were not allowed to leave their homes during Easter, could not employ Christian servants, and could not hold any public office.

Antisemitism was not simply a function of the power and traditions of the Roman Catholic Church. Even under Protestant governments during the Reformation, Jews suffered persection. Martin Luther himself wrote a piece entitled Against the Jews and their Lies, in which he advocated driving Jews out of Germany and burning their synagogues:

What then shall we Christians do with this damned, rejected race of Jews? ...Let me give you my honest advice. First, their synagogues or churches should be set on fire. ...Secondly, their homes should likewise be broken down and destroyed. ...Thirdly, they should be deprived of their prayer-books. ...Fourthly, their rabbis must be forbidden under threat of death to teach any more. ...Fifthly, passport and traveling privileges should be absolutely forbidden. ...Sixthly, they ought to be stopped from usury. ...Seventhly, let the young and strong Jews and Jewesses be given the flail, the ax, the hoe, the spade, the distaff, and spindle, and let them earn their bread by the sweat of their noses. [If there is any danger of Jews doing harm to their gentile overlords] ...let us drive them out of the country for all time ...away with them.


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-26 21:48:20
You can continue your bashing and grinding of axes till you are blue in the face but until you show a minimum ability to perceive the other side of the coin (about which I have written plenty)the possibility of an honest dialogue will be zero. I am afraid that Truth and Beauty and the Good just does not mix with intellectual deviousness.


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-26 21:52:39
Why, How, What and Nihilism

In the beginning there was violence,
And violence was with Man’s inhumanity to Man,
And the inhumanity was the survival of the fittest,
Proudly proclaim the men without chest of today
The Ubermensch descendant of Cain
In love with Machiavelli and Nietzsche’s will to power.

That’s the way things are, period.
We are not interested in the why but in the how
Proclaim the men without chest.
We couldn’t care less of the way things were.
Even less in the way they ought to be.
It is useless to imagine things as they may be.

We are enlightened rational scientists
We look at things as they are, period.

The Holocaust the worst crime in history?
The systematic rationalized murder of
Eleven million people? What’s the big deal!
Violence is in Man’s genes from the beginning.
That’s the way things are
We couldn’t care less about the why
We are scientists and attend to the how.


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-26 21:54:32
Forget hope, embrace despair.
History itself is a chronicle of crimes.

Nothing comes from nothing
Proudly shout the men without chest.
There is no paradigmatic natural law
We make our laws as we go along.
We, the powerful and the arrogant make the laws.
The powerless and the meek simply succumb.
That is the way it is from the beginning:
the weak lose, the strong win,
Proudly shout the men without chest.

Don’t talk to us of charity and compassion,
The language of the weak
Proclaims the Grand Inquisitor
Embrace the will to power,
Forget the will to Truth,
Forget the Beautiful, forget the Good.
Embrace the real and the logical and the rational,
Shouts the Grand Inquisitor
As he prepares the instruments
Of mental and spiritual torture.

Don’t you see? Nobody gets saved
Nobody needs salvation,
We simply die and then there is Nothing
Proudly shouts the Grand Inquisitor.

Why should we then preserve life on earth, asks a little boy.
The Grand Inquisitor is perplexed
And taken aback by the question,
but remains silent. as he continues to grind his ax.

He cannot hold on to the illogical position
That life is worth preserving
When it comes from nowhere
Goes nowhere and has no purpose
Just as the universe has no purpose.
All he has is his nihilism.
He continues to grind his ax in the dark cave with the fire at his back and his shadow on the wall.


Sand2008-07-26 22:07:53
Congratulations on entering the area of poetry. Obviously it entails more than arranging prose in poetic format but that's as good a beginning as ever. The old cliche's are good for a try or two but if you are earnest you will have to investigate more deeply into language's possibilities and I am sure you know at least a bit of this. Good try. I look forward to more interesting efforts.


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-26 22:23:51
How do you know that what I wrote is a poem? It may just be versified prose. How do you know I have not written (or perhaps not written( other poems which are not to be shared. You don't but of course that does not prevent Sand from being his usual patronizing self and asserting what he does not know. Be that as it may, in prose or in verse the content remains to be addressed and reflected upon and the message not confused with the messanger.


Sand2008-07-26 22:36:19
I don't know but it is in poetic format so I assume that was your intention. It really does not matter and the message, of course, is the same stuff you have been throwing at me for a good while. But if you want to hate me and my way of thinking in an innovative way, I am encouraged. Any move from your habitual crouch in a trench cheers me enormously. Maybe there's life in the old dog yet.


Sand2008-07-26 22:52:48
This last message, of course, betrayed a real incomprehension as to why I can keep on living sanely without what appears to me as the pure nonsense of religion and what appears to you as a justification for being alive. Setting aside obvious lack of real sensible evidence for the religious point of view, you wonder what there can be in life without the imposed order that religion claims to provide. My answer is that life itself and all the inter-relationships to other living things, human and otherwise, provides me with all the order I require. I am naturally, sans religion, a decent kind and occasionally loving human being to other humans and most of all other life. I do not require a god to prompt me in this direction, all my inner instincts do quite nicely. I enjoy immensely just being alive in this short peek at the universe between the absolute mental nothingness before and after my life and although I would like as long a life as possible I am beyond kidding myself with fantasies about what happens when I die. I just hope it doesn't hurt too much.


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-27 00:19:17
Those relationships of life you mention providing a modicum of coherence and inner order for assorted hard-core agnostics and atheists have a name; it was given to them by the Stoics (who were no Christians)such as Marcus Aurelius and Seneca: the name is Natural Law. One day last century a former atheists found that out too and realized that he had rediscovered the wheel. He was neverthless happy to have discovered it on his own; he even wrote a book about the phenomenon. His name is C.S. Lewis and the book's title is Surprised by Joy. So stay tuned, keep your mind open. There is a whole article coming up on Natural Law and C.S. Lewis.


Sand2008-07-27 09:09:15
Ah well! One toe dip into the icy cold waters of a strange reality and off you go unpacking your old unwashed laundry to get comfy again. These old ideas have no hint as to how alien and mysterious the universe really is, how it so easy to flee back to those resolutions of the unadventurous human mind into the naive trite mishmash of those outworn familiarities that reveal none of the needle points and sharp edges of how callous the universe really is. That faint glimmer of hope I had for you seems to have been smothered by the standard sugary glop of the tsunami of banalities.


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-27 09:34:43
One has to wonder if it ever occurs to the assorted rationalists of this world if their rationality devoid of the poetic is not the sun but the fire on their back projecting their shadow on the wall of a cave where axes are ground. The shadow knows.


Sand2008-07-27 10:21:25
It is, of course, not only impolite but also rather annoying to addressed as some sort of a particle of a generality. I am not one of an assortment of rationalists. I am me , a definite individual, and if you want to characterize me as a dumb son of a bitch I would much prefer that to your present creepy mode of address.

Your continuous harking back to Plato’s cave analogy is an unfortunate indication of the shallowness of your analytical capabilities. (Notice, I am not addressing an anonymous mass of unthinking philosophers, I am directly addressing Mr. Paparella who needs a bit of shaking up to dislodge his petrified thinking into an era where the naïve ancients have had to be replaced by people who more deeply comprehend the limitations of human perceptive processes). There is no cave and the light of whatever illumination reality creates is indeed modified by the human mind’s capability to formulate acceptable and understandable bits of reality. But we each create our own reality within each of our minds, none of which are totally false or completely true and the totality attempted to be envisioned by Plato is much too overwhelming and alien to be encompassed by any individual mind. Plato’s absolutes do not sail like crystal clouds in a never-never land to be accessed by absolute wisdom. They are mere simplistic abstractions decanted by each individual mind from the buzz and blast and thunder of impinging actuality and, like Lego blocks, may be assembled and re-assembled in games of simulated actuality but never encompass the overwhelming mass of reality within which we exist.

Do not speak to me of poetry. That seems to be totally outside your comprehension.


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-27 15:21:29
What comes through loud and clear from this outburst as from all the others proffered against the so called anachronistic ancients is that we moderns have superseeded them a long time ago, beginning with the Enlightenment, if not sooner, and we have nothing to learn from them and we know the solutions to our problems. All I am trying to suggest, and I have been at it for more than a year now, is simply this: that sort of mind-set, which includes Mr. Jan Sand as an individual ought to entertain the notion from time to time, when the voice are not visiting and one is all alone, that perhaps, perhaps they may not be part of the solution but part of the problem and that the ancients may have a thing or two to teach us about wisdom if not about knowledge.


Sand2008-07-27 15:39:26
Thank you for addressing me directly.
What comes across to me is that your evident immersion in ancient literature and thought has led you to the conviction that the ancients had nothing to learn from us. To toss away centuries of intelligent basic inquiry into the nature of human perception and how it informs the way humans can think is not merely odd but positively perverse. I have never made the claim that the ancients were stupid or that they did not use their current information to the best of their abilities but anyone who has lived through the huge exploration and exposition of the many new ways of teasing information from the world and confronted the extraordinary mass of revelatory data and not consider it a significant addition to human knowledge cannot plead ignorance. It is horrifying naked stupidity.


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-27 18:01:06
Unfortunately, if the Wannsee Conference teaches us anything, it is the fallacy of conceiving, a la Hegel, that whatever comes at the end of history is always better than what preceeded it. In point of fact those men at the Conference went further back than the stone age. No stone age man ever dreamt of planning the systematic rationaliszed murder of millions of people.


Sand2008-07-27 19:20:43
Fascinating information. I take it you have the stone tablets to back up your firm information about stone age ethics.


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-28 00:03:45
And in fact there is no doubt in my mind that when the next group of ethically challenged educated monsters plan the next Holocaust, they will proudly claim to have surpassed the former one and to have made progress in efficiency and organization because after all the ancients of the 20th century could only do so much with their limited technology and scientific knowledge, while, if Hegel is correct every historical synthesis arriving presently represents progress over the previous one. The tragedy would be that the wisdom of a Plato or a Stoic could indicated to those ethical monsters who never ask why but attend to the how, that in fact, despite Hegel’s rational logical abstractions, they had gone back ethically many many centuries.


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-28 00:21:09
Here is an excerpt from my up coming article in Ovi titled The Abolition of Man and Natural Law. Stay tuned for more details.

"Lewis’s poem “The Country of the Blind,” published in Punch in 1951, presents an image of these people. He imagines life as a misfit with eyes in a country of eyeless people who no longer believe vision ever existed. This poem tells of “hard” light shining on a whole nation of eyeless people who are unaware of their handicap. Blindness developed gradually through many centuries. At some transitional stage a few citizens still have eyes and vision after most people are blind. The blind are normal and up-to-date; ironically, they consider themselves “enlightened” and think that they have a push-button technological, rationalistic solution to a materialistic world governed by chance and mere impersonal mechanical laws. They use the same words their ancestors had used, but no longer know their concrete meaning. They still speak of light, meaning abstract rational thought. If a person with sight tries to describe the gray dawn or the stars or the green-sloped sea waves or the color of a lady’s cheek, the blind majority insist that they understand the feeling the sighted one expresses poetically in metaphor. There is no way to explain the facts to them. The blind who worship science and their own rationality ridicule the sighted one for taking figures of speech literally and concocting a myth about a sense perception no one has ever really had. If one thinks this is a far-fetched illustration, Lewis concludes, one need only try talking to famous people today about the truths of Natural Law which used to stand huge, awesome and clear to the inner eye. Lewis dubs them “the Controllers.”


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-28 00:28:07
And here is the poem in question:

The Country of the Blind

Hard light bathed them-a whole nation of eyeless men,
Dark bipeds not aware how they were maimed. A long
Process, clearly, a slow curse,
Drained through centuries, left them thus.

At some transitional stage, then, a luckless few,
No doubt, must have had eyes after the up-to-date,
Normal type had achieved snug
Darkness, safe from the guns of heavn;

Whose blind mouths would abuse words that belonged to their
Great-grandsires, unabashed, talking of light in some
Eunuch'd, etiolated,
Fungoid sense, as a symbol of

Abstract thoughts. If a man, one that had eyes, a poor
Misfit, spoke of the grey dawn or the stars or green-
Sloped sea waves, or admired how
Warm tints change in a lady's cheek,

None complained he had used words from an alien tongue,
None question'd. It was worse. All would agree 'Of course,'
Came their answer. "We've all felt
Just like that." They were wrong. And he


Knew too much to be clear, could not explain. The words --
Sold, raped flung to the dogs -- now could avail no more;
Hence silence. But the mouldwarps,
With glib confidence, easily

Showed how tricks of the phrase, sheer metaphors could set
Fools concocting a myth, taking the worlds for things.
Do you think this a far-fetched
Picture? Go then about among

Men now famous; attempt speech on the truths that once,
Opaque, carved in divine forms, irremovable,
Dear but dear as a mountain-
Mass, stood plain to the inward eye.

C S Lewis


Sand2008-07-28 07:26:05
The extremely distorted use of the word “worship” is very evident here. The world has experienced great progress in all its necessities through the use of rational reasoning and an intense curiosity in the nature of things. The envelope of this effort is called “science”. But the world does not “worship” science any more than a carpenter “worships” a hammer or a housewife “worships” an electric mixer. They merely find it extremely useful and highly rewarding and of course, science as a discipline healthily discards any practices that prove useless. In high contrast to religion.


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-28 07:51:20
"There is nothing which is absolutely useful or absolutely harmful. There are only those things which are used and those things for which a use has not yet been found" (Einstein).

"Praxis is not light" (Pope Benedict XVI)


Sand2008-07-28 08:04:30
Nothing was said about absolutes as the master of relativity would surely notice.


Emanuel Paparella2008-07-28 08:07:08
A hungry Dog finds a large juicy bone, carries it off in his mouth, and comes to a
bridge. He sees in the water his own reflection which he takes for another dog with even a bigger bone. He
snarls at it and gives him a bark. But at that moment the bone falls into the water and vanishes, and he
goes off hungrier than before. This is one of Aesop's fables. All his fables have a moral. The moral here is that when you grasp at the shadow you lose the substance. This raises an interesting question: which is the substance, the story or the moral, and which is the shadow. It may be tempting to think that the moral is the substance because it is the point of the story, after all, it's
the message. It may seem to matter more because it is a lesson and it is good for you. The story is just an
embellishment that makes the moral more palatable. A fable is perhaps a moral with frills. The moral, however, doesn't have a story. The story, on the other hand, contains the moral for those who find it. The moral need not be stated; the fable implies it. The fable is complete without spelling it out. So, the story is the substance, after all, and the moral its shadow. The story is what makes reading the fables worth the trouble. A story well told is always interesting. A collection of morals does not make a good
reading. There is a deeper layer of meaning to Aesop's fables however, and it is the uselessness of the useful whose other side is the usefulness of the useless.


Sand2008-07-28 08:36:58
There are, of course, people who, like perhaps a few silly dogs, take their imagined fantasies for reality and believe in lotteries and life after death and absolute beings hidden behind the clouds that reward people who conform to most peculiar practices. But most of us have the good sense to enjoy what we have at hand and use it as wisely as we can and thereby benefit.


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